300 SMEs, from the five regions of Africa, will be invited to this forum according to strict criteria: they must be officially registered in Africa, have been legally created at least three years ago, have turnover of at least $1.5 million and a minimum workforce of 10 employees. The SMEs are invited to submit their application on the forum site: www.africa-smechampions.com.
In addition to these 300 SMEs, a number of financial institutions will be present as well as high-quality experts and policymakers. “This forum will be the first direct access platform to finance for the SMEs,” states Didier Acouetey, founder of recruitment agency AfricSearch. In total, some 600 people are expected in Dakar.
SMEs represent 90% of privately-owned African companies, 33% of the continent's GDP and account for 45% of new jobs. “SMEs are vascularising the African economy,” states Didier Acouetey. “The African champions will be at the heart of the transformation of the continent,” declares Gervais Koffi Djondo, co-founder of the Ecobank group.
The Africa SME Champions Forum will focus on concrete solutions to the numerous challenges facing African managers. Masterclasses, customised consultancy spaces bringing together high-quality experts, and a mentoring programme will make it possible to meet these people’s expectations. “The idea is to bring together at a single location an entire range of tools, networks and services dedicated to SMEs to allow them to put in place, on their return, the methods shared by the community of the Africa SME Champions Forum,” explains Didier Acouetey.
A further highlight of the forum, the Africa SME Champions Awards, sponsored by the African Guarantee Fund, will reward the champions of the future and the top-class financial institutions in support of SMEs.